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Open for discussion: Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake from TEDxWhitechapel

Posted by: Tedstaff

UPDATE: Please see our new blog post Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake, a fresh take, which replaces the x-ed out text below.

To discuss the talks, view them here:

The debate about Rupert Sheldrake’s talk
The debate about Graham Hancock’s talk

After due diligence, including a survey of published scientific research and recommendations from our Science Board and our community, we have decided that Graham Hancock’s and Rupert Sheldrake’s talks from TEDxWhitechapel should be removed from distribution on the TEDx YouTube channel.

We’re not censoring the talks. Instead we’re placing them here, where they can be framed to highlight both their provocative ideas and the factual problems with their arguments. See both talks after the jump.

All talks on the TEDxTalks channel represent the opinion of the speaker, not of TED or TEDx, but we feel a responsibility not to provide a platform for talks which appear to have crossed the line into pseudoscience.

UPDATE: Please find Rupert Sheldrake’s response below the video window.

According to our science board, Rupert Sheldrake bases his argument on several major factual errors, which undermine the arguments of talk. For example, he suggests that scientists reject the notion that animals have consciousness, despite the fact that it’s generally accepted that animals have some form of consciousness, and there’s much research and literature exploring the idea.

He also argues that scientists have ignored variations in the measurements of natural constants, using as his primary example the dogmatic assumption that a constant must be constant and uses the speed of light as example. But, in truth, there has been a great deal of inquiry into the nature of scientific constants, including published, peer-reviewed research investigating whether certain constants – including the speed of light – might actually vary over time or distance. Scientists are constantly questioning these assumptions. For example, just this year Scientific American published a feature on the state of research into exactly this question. (“Are physical constants really constant?: Do the inner workings of nature change over time?”) Physicist Sean Carroll wrote a careful rebuttal of this point.

In addition, Sheldrake claims to have “evidence” of morphic resonance in crystal formation and rat behavior. The research has never appeared in a peer-reviewed journal, despite attempts by other scientists eager to replicate the work.

Response to the TED Scientific Board’s Statement

Rupert Sheldrake
March 18, 2013

I would like to respond to TED’s claims that my TEDx talk “crossed the line into pseudoscience”, contains ”serious factual errors” and makes “many misleading statements.”

This discussion is taking place because the militant atheist bloggers Jerry Coyne and P.Z. Myers denounced me, and attacked TED for giving my talk a platform. I was invited to give my talk as part of a TEDx event in Whitechapel, London, called “Challenging Existing Paradigms.” That’s where the problem lies: my talk explicitly challenges the materialist belief system. It summarized some of the main themes of my recent book Science Set Free (in the UK called The Science Delusion). Unfortunately, the TED administrators have publically aligned themselves with the old paradigm of materialism, which has dominated science since the late nineteenth century.

TED say they removed my talk from their website on the advice of their Scientific Board, who also condemned Graham Hancock’s talk. Hancock and I are now facing anonymous accusations made by a body on whose authority TED relies, on whose advice they act, and behind whom they shelter, but whose names they have not revealed.

TED’s anonymous Scientific Board made three specific accusations:

Accusation 1:
“he suggests that scientists reject the notion that animals have consciousness, despite the fact that it’s generally accepted that animals have some form of consciousness, and there’s much research and literature exploring the idea.”

I characterized the materialist dogma as follows: “Matter is unconscious: the whole universe is made up of unconscious matter. There’s no consciousness in stars in galaxies, in planets, in animals, in plants and there ought not to be any in us either, if this theory’s true. So a lot of the philosophy of mind over the last 100 years has been trying to prove that we are not really conscious at all.” Certainly some biologists, including myself, accept that animals are conscious. In August, 2012, a group of scientists came out with an endorsement of animal consciousness in “The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness”. As Discovery News reported, “While it might not sound like much for scientists to declare that many nonhuman animals possess conscious states, it’s the open acknowledgement that’s the big news here.” (http://news.discovery.com/human/genetics/animals-consciousness-mammals-birds-octopus-120824.htm)

But materialist philosophers and scientists are still in the majority, and they argue that consciousness does nothing – it is either an illusion or an ”epiphenomenon” of brain activity. It might as well not exist in animals – or even in humans. That is why in the philosophy of mind, the very existence of consciousness is often called “the hard problem”.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_problem_of_consciousness

Accusation 2:
“He also argues that scientists have ignored variations in the measurements of natural constants, using as his primary example the dogmatic assumption that a constant must be constant and uses the speed of light as example.… Physicist Sean Carroll wrote a careful rebuttal of this point.”

TED’s Scientific Board refers to a Scientific American article that makes my point very clearly: “Physicists routinely assume that quantities such as the speed of light are constant.”

In my talk I said that the published values of the speed of light dropped by about 20 km/sec between 1928 and 1945. Carroll’s “careful rebuttal” consisted of a table copied from Wikipedia showing the speed of light at different dates, with a gap between 1926 and 1950, omitting the very period I referred to. His other reference (http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/primer/lightandcolor/speedoflight.html) does indeed give two values for the speed of light in this period, in 1928 and 1932-35, and sure enough, they were 20 and 24km/sec lower than the previous value, and 14 and 18 km/sec lower than the value from 1947 onwards.

1926: 299,798
1928: 299,778
1932-5: 299,774
1947: 299,792

In my talk I suggest how a re-examination of existing data could resolve whether large continuing variations in the Universal Gravitational Constant, G, are merely errors, as usually assumed, or whether they show correlations between different labs that might have important scientific implications hitherto ignored. Jerry Coyne and TED’s Scientific Board regard this as an exercise in pseudoscience. I think their attitude reveals a remarkable lack of curiosity.

Accusation 3:
“Sheldrake claims to have “evidence” of morphic resonance in crystal formation and rat behavior. The research has never appeared in a peer-reviewed journal, despite attempts by other scientists eager to replicate the work.”

I said, “There is in fact good evidence that new compounds get easier to crystallize all around the world.” For example, turanose, a kind of sugar, was considered to be a liquid for decades, until it first crystallized in the 1920s. Thereafter it formed crystals everyehere. (Woodard and McCrone Journal of Applied Crystallography (1975). 8, 342). The American chemist C. P. Saylor, remarked it was as though “the seeds of crystallization, as dust, were carried upon the winds from end to end of the earth” (quoted by Woodard and McCrone).

The research on rat behavior I referred to was carried out at Harvard and the Universities of Melbourne and Edinburgh and was published in peer-reviewed journals, including the British Journal of Psychology and the Journal of Experimental Biology. For a fuller account and detailed references see Chapter 11 of my book Morphic Resonance (in the US) / A New Science of Life (in the UK). The relevant passage is online here: http://sciencesetfree.tumblr.com/

The TED Scientific Board refers to ”attempts by other scientists eager to replicate the work” on morphic resonance. I would be happy to work with these eager scientists if the Scientific Board can reveal who they are.

This is a good opportunity to correct an oversimplification in my talk. In relation to the dogma that mechanistic medicine is the only kind that really works, I said, “that’s why governments only fund mechanistic medicine and ignore complementary and alternative therapies.” This is true of most governments, but the US is a notable exception. The US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine receives about $130 million a year, about 0.4% of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) total annual budget of $31 billion.

Obviously I could not spell out all the details of my arguments in an 18-minute talk, but TED’s claims that it contains “serious factual errors,” “many misleading statements” and that it crosses the line into “pseudoscience” are defamatory and false.

UPDATE: Please find Graham Hancock’s response below the video window.

HANCOCK
Graham Hancock’s talk, again, shares a compelling and unorthodox worldview, but one that strays well beyond the realm of reasonable science. While attempting to critique the scientific worldview, he misrepresents what scientists actually think. He suggests, for example, that no scientists are working on the problem of consciousness.

In addition, Hancock makes statements about psychotropic drugs that seem both nonscientific and reckless. He states as fact that psychotropic drug use is essential for an “emergence into consciousness,” and that one can use psychotropic plants to connect directly with an ancient mother culture. He seems to offer a one-note explanation for how culture arises (drugs), it’s no surprise his work has often been characterized as pseudo-archeology.

TED respects and supports the exploration of unorthodox ideas, but the many misleading statements in both Sheldrake’s and Hancock’s talks, whether made deliberately or in error, have led our scientific advisors to conclude that our name and platform should not be associated with these talks.

Response to the TED Scientific Board’s Statement

Graham Hancock
March 18, 2013

(1) TED says of my “War on Consciousness” presentation: “…he misrepresents what scientists actually think. He suggests, for example, that no scientists are working on the problem of consciousness.”

The only passage I can find in my presentation that has any relevance at all to this allegation is between 9 mins 50 seconds and 11 mins 12 seconds. But nowhere in that passage or anywhere else in my presentation do I make the suggestion you attribute to me in your allegation, namely that “no scientists are working on the problem of consciousness.” Rather I address the mystery of life after death and state that “if we want to know about this mystery the last people we should ask are materialist, reductionist scientists. They have nothing to say on the matter at all.” That statement cannot possibly be construed as my suggesting that “no scientists are working on the problem of consciousness,” or of “misrepresenting” what materialist, reductionist scientists actually think. I am simply stating the fact, surely not controversial, that materialist, reductionist scientists have nothing to say on the matter of life after death because their paradigm does not allow them to believe in the possibility of life after death; they believe rather that nothing follows death. Here is the full transcript of what I say in my presentation between 9 mins 50 seconds and 11 mins 12 seconds: “What is death? Our materialist science reduces everything to matter. Materialist science in the West says that we are just meat, we’re just our bodies, so when the brain is dead that’s the end of consciousness. There is no life after death. There is no soul. We just rot and are gone. But actually any honest scientist should admit that consciousness is the greatest mystery of science and that we don’t know exactly how it works. The brain’s involved in it in some way, but we’re not sure how. Could be that the brain generates consciousness the way a generator makes electricity. If you hold to that paradigm then of course you can’t believe in life after death. When the generator’s broken consciousness is gone. But it’s equally possible that the relationship – and nothing in neuroscience rules it out – that the relationship is more like the relationship of the TV signal to the TV set and in that case when the TV set is broken of course the TV signal continues and this is the paradigm of all spiritual traditions – that we are immortal souls, temporarily incarnated in these physical forms to learn and to grow and to develop. And really if we want to know about this mystery the last people we should ask are materialist, reductionist scientists. They have nothing to say on the matter at all. Let’s go rather to the ancient Egyptians who put their best minds to work for three thousand years on the problem of death and on the problem of how we should live our lives to prepare for what we will confront after death…”

(2) TED says of my “War on Consciousness” presentation: “… Hancock makes statements about psychotropic drugs that seem both non-scientific and reckless.”

I profoundly disagree. In my presentation I speak honestly and openly about my own damaging and destructive 24-year cannabis habit and about how experiences under the influence of Ayahuasca were the key to breaking this habit. I also say ( 3 min 46 seconds to 3 min 50 seconds) that “I don’t think any of the psychedelics should be used for recreation.”

(3) TED says of my presentation: “He states as fact that psychotropic drug use is essential for an “emergence into consciousness,” and that one can use psychotropic plants to connect directly with an ancient mother culture.”

Nowhere in my talk do I state as a fact that psychotropic drug use is “essential” for an “emergence into consciousness.” Nowhere in my talk do I state that “one can use psychotropic plants to connect directly with an ancient mother culture.”

(4) TED says of my “War on Consciousness” presentation: “He offers a one-note explanation for how culture arises (drugs), which just doesn’t hold up.”

I refute this. What I say (between 1 min 06 seconds and 1 min 54 seconds) is that some scientists in the last thirty years have raised an intriguing possibility — emphasis on POSSIBILITY — which is that the exploration of altered states of consciousness, in which psychedelic plants have been implicated, was fundamental to the emergence into fully symbolic consciousness witnessed by the great cave art.

(5) TED says of my “War on Consciousness” presentation: “… it’s no surprise his work has often been characterized as pseudo-archeology.”

Of what possible relevance is this remark? Many different people have characterised my work in many different ways but at issue here is not what people have said about my work over the years but the actual content of this specific TEDx presentation.

Comments (2158)

  • Bee Sherif commented on Mar 14 2013

    Oh my goodness! I am so disapointed in TED for hiding these talks. When you invited the speakers to come onto TED you knew what their topics are and that they’re controversial and unconventional speakers. Who is your board who made this decission? Names please!! Who is TED to sensor these 2 thinkers? Who is TED to take away MY right to made decissions for myself as to what the truth is? Who is TED to make decissions for adults who have a brain? I am really aghast and so very disapointed to realise that the TED platform is being ‘regulated’ and will dismiss ideas and controversial talks because they don’t fit some ‘invisible board’ who lack an open mind. Don’t you realise that by having free thinkers we may indeed push science ahead? Stiffling voices is never going to work in humanities favour. Do you think we the public are so stupid that we can’t decide what’s right/tru from false/errors?

    Disgusted and very very disapointed in TED !

  • damien mahoney commented on Mar 14 2013

    I’ll be interested to see TED’s replies to Graham Hancock’s questions below. The ‘science board’ seems to have made quite a clumsy, misleading summary of what Hancock said in the original TED talk, and he has challenged this, point by point, in the blog comments below. For a surprising and sad perspective on TED talks, check out this link.

    • Chris Stevens commented on Mar 14 2013

      Man, after hearing this clip, the censorship makes so much more sense. Thanks for posting.

  • Mike Proletarian commented on Mar 14 2013

    It’s sad that a few individuals who hide behind the TED name have decided to censor these talks. I am really shocked. I held TED in such high regard…until now.

    This is not the proper way to discuss ideas. Blocking the video’s on YouTube and re-posting them with a lead-in paragraph that basically says “Everything you hear in these talks is bullshit”. Is this how TED likes to frame conversations?

    Graham has responded in these comments. You are challenged to come forward and directly answer his questions in detail. You owe that to all of us.

  • Mister Hawks commented on Mar 14 2013

    Just waiting for TED to remove the comment section of this post…

  • Ethan Nichols commented on Mar 14 2013

    TED, you and your super smart scientists haven’t realized what consciousness even is, and Graham Hancock saying that they haven’t done work on figuring out consciousness makes complete sense, because they haven’t even realized that’s what they are in the first place, they just probably think “OH I’m a smart scientist, I know, and these are the rules of science and we must go by them!!”. Maybe that’s why you feel you can’t be associated with such an idea that could even totally disregard all of “science” as a whole. It was nice to think such a huge organization like you would be a forefront leader in helping “change” or awareness of these things in the world while being completely open, but this just ruins it. I’m also mostly conjuring up these words just so you look bad as a reliable source of truth yourself for everyone to see! People want the truth, why do you try to hide this stuff when clearly you don’t even know what this universe is all about?
    Your scientists making judgements such as “Hancock makes statements about psychotropic drugs that SEEM both nonscientific and reckless” is not very scientific when you haven’t even had the experience yourself, so all you can say is they “seem” to be some way according to your afraid, biased minds!! You got a hypothesis for that one?! Let me see your evidence!

    Jesus Christ…

  • Mark Kawate commented on Mar 14 2013

    You are UNDERMINING the entirety of TED and TEDx by taking this action against these two speakers. Half of the neuroscience on the TEDx website has less peer review or “factual inaccuracies” then these two talks. Want us to hold your feet to the fire to take down ALL the videos with 1 mistake in them?

    I love TED. I LOVE SCIENCE. I DESPISE THIS BS and will fight you on this one, believe that. Please stop being so ridiculous and put these vids back where they belong and deserve to be.

  • Joe Mays commented on Mar 14 2013

    Dear TED,
    While I might often disagree with your speakers and their opinions, especially when they present their opinions as hard science, I still appreciated that you provided a medium where their ideas could be freely heard and critiqued. Both Sheldrake and Graham, and especially Graham, make it very clear whenever they are expressing a controversial idea or something that is merely a hypothesis or opinion of theirs rather than an indisputable fact (something that cannot be said of many of the individuals featured on your site and youtube page).
    Your blatant censorship of these men, with whom I do not fully agree, and your removal of their videos from youtube, reveal the true colors of TED. You have lost my support, and any future claim of your “openness” to scientific inquiry or unorthodox ideas will be met with a chuckle to avoid succumbing to anger and indignation. None of your objections to these talks hold up, nor do they justify the actions you have decided to take. I hope you realize you’ve made a mistake and you apologize. Humility is an important part of the scientific process.

    So, every time Jerry Coyne complains about one of your talks now, you take it down? Or I suppose you just didn’t really notice all the “errors and pseudoscience” in these talks when you first decided to allow them on youtube to receive hundreds of thousands of views before removing them. Whatever the REAL reasons are for this censorship, it makes me think you are just as blind and fearful as the narrow-minded fundamentalists you supposedly aspire to challenge. Perhaps you could take a lesson from these men’s criticisms of the biases, ignorance, and dogma that are very real in the scientific community today, if you were able to listen to their words with open ears. I would call you disgraceful and shameful but I know my admonitions will be lost on your smug, “radically open” staff.

    Farewell.

    • commented on Mar 14 2013

      “You have lost my support, and any future claim of your “openness” to scientific inquiry or unorthodox ideas will be met with a chuckle to avoid succumbing to anger and indignation.”

      Well said.

  • Maggie Percy commented on Mar 14 2013

    I don’t know the exact people who made the decision to censor such valuable and intelligent material, but they are acting just like the Spanish Inquisition, as if they are afraid of allowing ‘contamination’ to spread through the herd of unthinking sheep they are mentoring.

    Seems to me if an idea is stupid, it will die on its own. Only great ideas like this need to be censored, because they have the ability to create change, and those in charge of the status quo will always do anything they can to prevent change.

    TED’s action proves the low regard they hold for the intelligence of their audience (why not let people choose?), as well as the arrogance of whoever decided that they are the final arbiters of “Truth”.

    I guess TED only wants dumb people watching, who can be led to believe whatever they want them to believe. So I won’t watch anymore.

    • Barry Conchie commented on Mar 15 2013

      Exactly what has been censored?

  • James Byrne commented on Mar 14 2013

    this behaviour from TED is an absolute insult to anyone with a brain.
    how can they remove these two great speakers and claim that they arent speaking good science.
    Tell me TED what is “Good Science”?
    and who makes these awful decisions.. or more specifically, what corporate CEO told you to move these videos out of sight? in my opinion Graham Hancocks sermon was one of the best ive seen.
    such silly little bitchess TED… you really are.

    • Barry Conchie commented on Mar 15 2013

      Could you please explain your first sentence given what you wrote in your last? And is it really that difficult to express yourself in a civil manner without resort to misogynist comments?

  • Joseph Dice commented on Mar 14 2013

    TEDtalks just wanted to shoot themselves in the foot today. Shame on TED for censoring anyone. Is it not bitterly ironic that their moto is “Ideas worth spreading”? Has TED never seen any of the videos on their own site? How do they think the evolution of new ideas happens?!?!?!

    • Barry Conchie commented on Mar 15 2013

      Exactly what has been censored?

      • Rome Viharo commented on Mar 15 2013

        two TEDx talks were pulled from their distirbution channel (youtube) – they are now *soft* censored by putting them in a corner of the site that is not really used as a channel to publish TEDx talks. I assume this was considered a compromise until everything is sorted – however it’s still soft censorship and the decision to make it was more political than valid philosophically.

        • Barry Conchie commented on Mar 15 2013

          So the talks can still be seen, right? Define “soft censorship”.

        • Jim Ryan commented on Mar 25 2013

          From another point of view. From the science web sites I’ve taken part in, including Ted, I see the vast majority as non thinkers or cut and paste individuals, flat earthers. So much coming from them is censorship in its many forms. It’s like they become offended that they have no answer.

          Could Ted be keeping most of them at bay?

          IE: red shift blue shift, speed of light theory, gravity and more.

        • Terry Allen commented on Mar 25 2013

          You have all the answers do you Ryan. You are afflicted by The Hubris Complex and because you have no explanation for phenomena that you are unable to put in a box you go into denial. Unfortunately for people of your materialistic ilk the genie is out of the box and you lot are going to be blown away by the Tsunami that is bringing in the New Non Materilistic Paradigm. All this suppression controlled and manipulated by the so-called elites and guess what they will leave all you defenders of their faith home alone without any hope!

          “We already have the means to travel among the stars, but these technologies are locked up in black projects, and it would take an act of God to ever get them out to benefit humanity. Anything you can imagine, we already know how to do.”
          Ben Rich Lockheed Skunk Works director

        • Jim Ryan commented on Mar 25 2013

          Terry, I gave you and any others that wish to challenge, plenty to prove you are not just more people that are cut and paste individuals, with cubicle smarts only. Show one school that teaches school kids to think for themselves.

          I challenged red shift blue shift, speed of light theory and gravity, take your pick. I believe evolutionary science is destroying children’s minds, along with some other notions by so called scientists.

          Speak to the subjects or talk trash to others that can’t think for themselves.

        • Terry Allen commented on Mar 25 2013

          Schools in the UK that teach children to think for themselves are public schools where parents pay a lot of money to have their children educated. In the state system, the children of the masses are being indoctrinated to regurgitate the specious and spurious information they are given and to obey authority. I have taught in both systems over here but that is bye the bye.
          We need to realize that life is our teacher and if we want to progress we must self-educate. With that in mind I suggest people start digesting The Trivium:

          Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.
          Issac Asimov

        • Terry Allen commented on Mar 25 2013

          No idea why this is showing up again I thought I had answered it! Like the Late Philosopher C.E.Joad once famously said, You cannot teach people how to think correctly, you can only show them examples of incorrect thinking.

        • Jim Ryan commented on Mar 25 2013

          Please tell us what and how the schools in the UK teach, IE: thinking for oneself?

          Sorry, but I don’t believe it, as I’ve spoken to at least 5 others from GB about science and they had nothing other than cut and paste and childish name calling.

  • Samuel Bielski commented on Mar 14 2013

    shame on TED. shame shame shame shame shame. You have lost all credibility to me and im sure to many others. We know now that you are actively censoring good ideas. How many other excellent ideas have you kept from the public eye because of your ‘authorization board’ disagrees with the ideas presented. Once again, SHAME ON YOU. Hopefully thousands of others will recognize your organization for what it is… a means to propagate whatever ideas fall within your sanctioned realm of possibilities while actively censoring any ideas that do not fall within this framework.

    I will most certainly be spreading knowledge of your bias and censorship policies

    • Enopoletus Harding commented on Mar 15 2013

      Not all ideas are worth spreading.

      • ted sucks commented on Mar 15 2013

        i think you meant – not all ideas are worth selling… then yeah, especially not the ones that make flock of sheep think for themselves. these are the dangerous ideas, the ones that gotta be hidden from the public by the board of ‘scientists’!

        • Enopoletus Harding commented on Mar 15 2013

          Some ideas are false. You realize this, right?

        • Terry Allen commented on Mar 15 2013

          @ Pithom Your ideas doubly so its axiomatic old bean:

          ‘I was searching for a fool when I found you’
          As You Like It

        • Enopoletus Harding commented on Mar 15 2013

          Do you have an argument?

        • Terry Allen commented on Mar 15 2013

          @ Pithom I am making observations based on your thus far asinine comments.

          Thou art like a toad; ugly and venemous.
          William Shakespeare As You Like It

      • Manric Gottfried commented on Mar 25 2013

        Warning:

        DO NOT FEED THE TROLL PITHOM AKA Enopoletus HardinG!!!

        Thank you.

        • Enopoletus Harding commented on Mar 25 2013

          I finally found your questions.

        • Enopoletus Harding commented on Mar 25 2013

          1. Yes, though empirical observation does not “prove” philosophical reasoning; it “confirms” it.
          2. No. Even considering what Ancient Egyptian state religion on the matter of consciousness is ridiculous.
          3. Definitely.
          4. Yes. I see no reason for why they shouldn’t exist.
          5. Sure, though open minds can rarely be sustained. “Skeptical” minds would be better.
          6. No, I am not a scientist.
          7. No.

  • Surge Tanir commented on Mar 14 2013

    Thanks TED, for perpetuating the DEA’s efforts to keep the benefit of psychedelic drugs out of the public eye

    But but the American Governments War on (some) Drugs told us psychedelics are bad! They make you jump out of windows!
    /sarcasm

  • Scott Beers commented on Mar 14 2013

    One of the best TED presentations is being censored… really?

    • Chris Anderson commented on Mar 14 2013

      Really not. You’re looking at it. Taking our responsibilities as a platform seriously means we have to act on a talk regarded as absurd by mainstream science. But we’re more than happy for a conversation about it to continue, if only to clarify the fuzzy gray line between science and pseudo-science. Right now this comment section is over-run by the hordes of supporters sent our way by Graham Hancock. It would be nice for you to calm down and actually read some of the criticisms of his work so that you can get a more balanced view point. And meanwhile, we’ll be reading the views of anyone who’ll be patient enough to express them in a reasoned way …as opposed to throwing around shrieks of censorship when nothing of the kind has happened. Thank you.

      • Michael Hughes commented on Mar 14 2013

        Perhaps you could answer Hancock’s questions, so we might be able to judge your allegations properly? And to suggest it is only “hordes of supporters” of Hancock and/or Sheldrake posting here in their behalf is insulting to those of us who care about what we see as pure censorship on the part of your organization. I find their work interesting and provocative, but I don’t post comments just to provide moral support for anyone—to suggest so is presumptuous and arrogant.

      • Graham Hancock commented on Mar 14 2013

        Chris, unless I’ve missed something no-one at TED, including yourself, has replied yet to my two posts posing four questions asking TED to substantiate the allegations you have made publicly against my presentations. Answer these questions, with reference to my statements within my presentation and referring us with minutes and seconds to the exact points in my talk that you feel justify your defamatory allegations against me. You are receiving a lot of criticism here and it is patronising and shameful of you to try to write that off as “this comments section is over-run by hordes of supporters sent our way by Graham Hancock.” My “supporters” are small in numbers by comparison with the millions who log on to the TED website, but their comments deserve to be taken as seriously not dismissed in this high-handed way. You want posters to read criticisms of my work but I still await your reply to the four questions I have posed in my two original comments here. Surely, if you have a leg to stand on, then those four questions offer you an excellent opportunity to present criticisms of my work?

      • John Campbell commented on Mar 14 2013

        Mr. Anderson, you clearly have censored the these videos by relegating them to this hastily assembled damp corner of the site and restricting their circulation. So please, at least start by being honest.

        “But we’re more than happy for a conversation about it to continue, if only to clarify the fuzzy gray line between science and pseudo-science”

        Great. So why not have a proper debate between the Science board members who saw fit to restrict the circulation of these two talks and Hancock-Sheldrake? There is no way that the above disclaimer can be considered a refutation of either talk. It’s seriously lacking, and offers no counter-point.

        “Taking our responsibilities as a platform seriously means we have to act on a talk regarded as absurd by mainstream science.”

        Is that so? Then why did you publish these videos in the first place? Did you think Sheldrake and Hancock were a natural fit with mainstream science to begin with?

      • Gene Semel commented on Mar 14 2013

        TED: Ideas Worth Spreading. Hmmm? There have been many a great “idea” worth spreading in history that is oppressed by those with power to do so. Who were you pleasing exactly and answering clearly why would be nice.

        Explanation to the allegations outlined by Graham I assume is forthcoming – looking forward to reading it.

        The “calm down” comment is ironic given the lack of textual calm in your previous reply “?!” above.

        Was a HUGE TED fan till now Chris. Ideas worth spreading…

      • Ludvig Rudén commented on Mar 14 2013

        If you and the rest of TEDStaff regard their work not to be purely scientific, could you please explain to me including others here why they were invited to speak in the first place? Because that is how TED arrange speaks, through invitation, right?

        Secondly I find it quite disgusting that you have time to sit here and reply to what you refer to ass “hordes of supporters” instead of addressing Mr. Hancock’s concerns and questions openly as he’s asked for.

        You wanted a discussion, right? Now you got it, but instead of addressing the concerns of why we all stormed onto your site in the first place you continue trying to defend your now flaming castle. Why don’t you take the time and make some good use of it instead, and maybe hordes will not continue to be sent here.

        If you won’t reply to Mr. Hancock and prove your own statements to be correct, then at least put in your personal thoughts on my comment please. It would be highly appreciated.

        Regards,

        Ludvig

      • Graham Hancock commented on Mar 14 2013

        In further response to Chris Anderson, TED Curator: More than 5 hours after I originally posted them, I present my four simple questions again. So far, although you have been active here posting comments on other points you have for some reason not found time to answer my questions:

        (1) TED says of my “War on Consciousness” presentation: “…he misrepresents what scientists actually think. He suggests, for example, that no scientists are working on the problem of consciousness.”

        I would like TED to identify where exactly in my talk they believe I say that “no scientists are working on the problem of consciousness”? Also in what other specific ways does TED believe I misrepresent what scientists actually think?

        (2) TED says of my presentation: “He states as fact that psychotropic drug use is essential for an “emergence into consciousness,” and that one can use psychotropic plants to connect directly with an ancient mother culture.”

        I would like TED to identify where exactly in my talk they believe I state as a fact that psychotropic drug use is essential for an emergence into consciousness. I would also like TED to identify where exactly in my talk I state that one can use psychotropic plants to connect directly with an ancient mother culture.

        (3) TED states that there are many inaccuracies in my presentation which display a disrespect both for my audience and for my arguments.

        I would like TED to indentify where exactly in my talk these alleged “many inaccuracies” occur.

        (4) TED says of my “War on Consciousness” presentation: “He offers a one-note explanation for how culture arises (drugs), which just doesn’t hold up.”

        Again I would like TED to identify the point in my talk where I state this. Do I not rather say that some scientists in the last thirty years have raised an intriguing possibility — emphasis on POSSIBILITY — which is that the exploration of altered states of consciousness, in which psychedelic plants have been implicated, was fundamental to the emergence into fully symbolic consciousness witnessed by the great cave art? I can cite a wide range of respectable peer-reviewed scientists who have suggested this possibility and I do not see how reporting their work, which I have every right to do, can be construed as offering “a one-note explanation for how culture arises (drugs).” Besides is every talk that touches on the origins of culture obliged to consider all possible factors that might be involved in the origins of culture? How could any speaker be expected to do that in one 18-minute talk?

        Lastly, a fifth point. I am keeping screen shots of your introduction to this page and I note that you have now added the phrase: “it’s no surprise his work has often been characterized as pseudo-archeology.” This phrase was in the original letter to the organisers of TEDx Whitechapel but was absent from this page earlier today. Now that it is present again may I ask why? Many different people have characterised my work in many different ways but at issue here is not what people have said about my work over the years but the actual content of this specific TEDx presentation.

      • Richard Coldman commented on Mar 14 2013

        “we have to act on a talk regarded as absurd by mainstream science”?
        Why not question the absurdity of mainstream science instead?
        Coward!

      • bohemian groover commented on Mar 14 2013

        You’re correct, it isn’t censorship.

        It’s just cowardly and patronising.

      • Steve Stark commented on Mar 14 2013

        Right now this section is over-run by people curious to see how TED is going to justify the blatant lies printed above about the content of Hancock’s talk.

        On a lighter note, I also see you are claiming to have psychic powers inasmuch as you are claiming to know that we were all sent here by Hancock. I wasn’t, I came here because I wanted to see what reason was given, and all I saw was a pack of lies. Why not address Hancock’s question rather than blurting out more guff and adding insult to injury.

      • Graham Hancock commented on Mar 14 2013

        Attn Chris Anderson: since you have removed the video of my “War on Consciousness” presentation from the TEDx Youtube channel can I take it TED will not object to my uploading it to my own Youtube channel? Please confirm one way or the other. Subject to Rupert Sheldrake’s agreement (he is presently in India and hard to reach) I would also like to run his “Science Delusion” presentation on my Youtube channel. Can I take it TED will not object? Please confirm one way or another. And I still look forward to an answer to my questions; however since it is now close to midnight in the UK I am off to bed. Hope to find your replies in the morning!

      • Bruce Cook commented on Mar 16 2013

        Mr. Anderson: Graham Hancock’s questions deserve a response. I am new to this site and believe the burder of credibility is upon you, in regard to which scientific ideas, valid or invalid , are worthy of expression.
        For the record, I have read one of Mr Hancock’s books and perused several of Mr Sheldrake’s. I don’t know if their viewpoints are True but find them intellectually provocative & worthy of consideration. ( I do not consider myself as part of an admiring ‘horde’).
        As for verification, I understand that Einstein’s theory of relativity could not be immediately tested – he had to wait for an eclipse and the participation of astronomers. Initially, contradictory results were reported by different astronomers, Campbell & Eddington. But a later astronomical observation confirmed Einstein’s calculations. If my understanding of history is correct Einstein’s viewpoint was met with a certain amount of skepticism, at first, but there was not a blanket dismissal.
        Let’s be open-minded.

      • Richard Coldman commented on Mar 16 2013

        “It would be nice for you to calm down and actually read some of the criticisms of his work so that you can get a more balanced view point.” – Chris Anderson

        It would be nice for YOU to calm down and actually read some of the criticisms of YOUR work so that you can get a MORE BALANCED view point. – Your viewing community

      • Pat Carullo commented on Mar 18 2013

        I WAS NOT “sent your way by Graham Hancock” ….

        I HEARD HANCOCK’S TALK ON PRN RADIO – LAST WEEK ….
        AND I GREATLY RESPECT SHELDRAKE’S WORK …
        I WAS SENT TO YOU BY MICHAEL RUPPERT …..

        YOUR TED IS NOW A “BORESOME” “BRAND” …

  • Oscal Nunez commented on Mar 14 2013

    it is very disturbing to me that your organization has still to this level of censorship have taken the steps, I have great respect for this organization and have watched many videos and many interesting people speak and voice their opinions. I have learned a great deal from watching the videos that you post, which is why I do not comprehend why you have taken it upon yourself to censor someone as these two men were completely qualified and respected in their field. This is a great injustice from your organization, you need to reflect on this offense and correct it but by hiding these two videos here you have made the problem worse. you have angered a lot of people, and we have a voice, and we will raise them very loudly to oppose this type of behavior on your part.. do not taint your organization by narrowmindedness… these two men desert better than this… and we as adults deserve the right to make up our own minds as to what we watch, and except.

  • Mark Essary commented on Mar 14 2013

    What are they so scared of!!!!

    • Manric Gottfried commented on Mar 14 2013

      i have been asking this same question. I think they are scared of Mother-Ayahuasca blowing the cover of our illusion-based society. I have not tried it but I have researched a lot on DMT and Ayahuasca and will be venturing soon with it. It seems to be enlightening and something that could seed a real new age of consciousness if let out of the bag in today´s manipulated and corrupt society where money is valued over anything else, something for those who have it, don’t want.

      I suspect this information is truly worrisome to the many dinosaurs with power who hope to pass on their disgusting blood-and-sweat-soaked riches to their grandchildren. Today, we see science has failed to abstain from the corrupt grasps of absolute power. But truth indeed will always prevail and nature is wise. I can say for certain that THAT is a constant in nature.

      • Elisaveta Berger commented on Mar 15 2013

        very true

      • Enopoletus Harding commented on Mar 15 2013

        TED’s credibility. The idea that drugs are superior to reason is ridiculous. Nature is blind, not wise.

        • Craig Weinberg commented on Mar 15 2013

          A. Reason is not superior to direct experience. You can’t discover a new continent by reason alone.

          B. Where human awareness is concerned, altered states of consciousness provide direct experience.

          C. We are part of nature, so nature can be no less wise than we are.

          D. Since the experience of reasoning is associated with neurochemical conditions, we should not assume that ‘reason’ is not a ‘drug’, just as sex, money, fame, control, etc can be understood as ‘drugs’.

        • Enopoletus Harding commented on Mar 16 2013

          1. True.
          2. Yes, but of fantasy.
          3. True.
          4. I don’t see much of a point here.

        • Craig Weinberg commented on Mar 16 2013

          “2. Yes, but of fantasy.”

          Fantasy is more intrinsic to consciousness than ‘reality’. Fantasy, especially unbidden, immensely rich fantasy, is exactly the stuff of consciousness.

          “4. I don’t see much of a point here.”

          The point is that you are applying a normative lens to ‘reason’ as if it were somehow self-evidently superior to other states of consciousness which are associated with biochemistry. If we say that consciousness is biochemical, then reason becomes just one of many drug states.

  • Bill Bridges commented on Mar 14 2013

    I’ve already been growing tired of the techno-utopian bias in most TED talks, but to have a “science council” that judges the worthiness of talks if beyond ridiculous. TED is not a peer-reviewed journal, so please quit acting like one. Please give us thought-provoking talks and let us decide whether they are of value to us. We don’t need thought gatekeepers, thank you very much.

    If your science council wants to rebut these talks, why don’t they give talks of their own? Or better, have a debate format talk — a Socratic dialogue TED talk.

  • Esther Steria commented on Mar 14 2013

    An interesting talk with Eddie Huang about his experience with TED. Forced to stay at the TED conference for a full week, assigned roomates, not allowed to get your own hotel room or leave, told “how to network with billionaires”. Oh, and they tell the audience (who have to apply to attend) who to give a standing ovation to.

    TED charges $8000 per person to attend the talk, and dont even pay the speakers. Total corporate, and it’s sad that so many people looking for a genuine new paradigm, have been duped into supporting TED.

    watch : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hwLMBdnbXk

  • Lia Stelea commented on Mar 14 2013

    You have lost today another admirer, TED. Forever. I liked the “ideas” part, going for creativity, staying on the edge of innovation. This is how progress takes place, via imagination and the free-flow of ideas. Not dogma. And today you have proven to be dogmatic.

    What you practice is obviously double-standard. I could have jumped at any TED presentation, signalling all kinds of statements which would fail peer-review. Because a presentation would never have the level of accuracy that is appropriate to journal articles. If you would apply the same level of bias to all your presentations, not only to these two, you would have nothing to show, except probably arithmetic lessons for 8 year-olds. Because higher mathematics require not only abstract thinking, but also imagination and leaps of faith.

  • Paradigm Shift commented on Mar 14 2013

    $16,000,000+ For the event…

    • Dimitri Spice commented on Mar 14 2013

      Yeah. And yet they treat they’re speakers like shit and don’t even pay them. LOL

  • Mike Lindner commented on Mar 14 2013

    I am really disappointed with TED. I thought TED was supposed to be an instrument to distribute and share ideas between various viewpoints and fields. Apparently if you speak theoretically outside of accepted contemporary science, even in fields that science does not even begin to truly understand – for instance consciousness – you will be censored and removed (unless others can profit off them). This is pretentious, controlling, academic, ideology at its worst. Everything Graham Hancock stated in this lecture is somewhat further justified considering TED’s authoritarian response. This really is inquisition-esque as Mr. Hancock put it. Clearly we don’t fully understand the universe around us – nor will we for some time (if ever) – does that mean we are supposed to stop asking questions? I am not saying I necessarily agree with everything or anything he says, but regardless, he should be free to share his opinions, especially considering he was invited to speak by TED.

    Direct Verbatim from TEDx site:

    “TEDx was created in the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading.” The program is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level.”

    “A suite of short, carefully prepared talks, demonstrations and performances (live, or just TEDTalks videos from TED.com) on a wide range of subjects to foster learning, inspiration and wonder — and to provoke conversations that matter”

    I am really grossed out by whoever is pushing this AGENDA at TED. TED has truly disappointed myself and let down the community that supports them with this unjustifiable response.